Remember those days when the weather was muggy, it was cold and raining, and all you wanted to do was make a cup of hot chocolate and curl up with your favourite book on the couch?
Welcome to the future.
This can slowly turn into curling up with your little e-reader that, despite all efforts made by marketers, will not compare to the feeling you get when you hold an actual book.
The world is recognizing the benefits of e-Books and is trying to incorporate them into consumer’s daily lives, with the creation of several e-readers by popular technology companies like Samsung, Apple, Amazon, and Kobo.
More and more institutions, such as schools and prisons are also involving e-Books into their curriculum. By implementing these e-Books in schools, there can be advantages to students, school administrators, and parents of students. The weight of students’ backpacks is less of a burden, school administrators can manage and monitor students’ developments, and parents spend less money on textbooks.
E-Books are beneficial to the classic busy bee, who cannot carry multiple textbooks or novels at once or needs something to be readily available. However, to the traditional reader who enjoys holding a hard copy of a book this changing world is worrisome, so the need to protect the market share is increasing. According to Good E-Reader, from January to April of 2017 compared to that of 2018, eBook sales decreased by 3.8%, hardback book sales increased by 11.8%, and paperback and mass market book sales increased by 1.4%. Clearly, some factors are making consumers switch back to traditional paper books.
Paper books do not need Wi-Fi, a working computer, smartphone, or tablet for accessibility or download. Paper books do not strain your eyes like a conventional computer, smartphone or tablet screen does. Do you know how many times I have had to take a break from reading chapters of an online textbook I purchased for a course? My eyes became too tired and blurred, which resulted in a headache. I have not conducted any research, but I will assume that if textbooks continue to be sold in such format, many students will be needing eyeglasses. It is acknowledged that the small fonts of some paper books can result in squinting or reaching for your glasses, but with all the electronic screens we encounter already through computers and smartphones, another one would make eye strain worse.
Paper books also do not distract the reader as much as eBooks do. When reading online, many people tend to wander to other sites, such as Facebook or YouTube. Paper books are much less likely to distract you in such a way, as they are not attached to the Internet.
Paper books also seem much more valuable to the owner. Think about it: as a bibliophile, would you prefer a gift of a simple tablet with an online version of your favourite book, or would you prefer a limited-edition copy, signed by the author? Evidently, you would choose the latter. The physical copy would have meaning to you and it is a thoughtful act on the part of the gifter.
These physical copies – or originals – hold a certain history to them. With every person they travel with, or every shelf they sit on, each individual book has its own story to tell – literally and figuratively. They also serve as historical artifacts, such as the case of “Leviathan” by English philosopher Thomas Hobbes and “The Starry Messenger” by Galileo Galilei. No e-reader or cloud computer could carry the amount of history that these books do.
Lastly, physical books enable three of the five senses: sight, touch, and smell – for those who like the smell of new – or old – books. I know I’m not the only one. An article in The Guardian writes about a research study being conducted regarding how people react to smells of old books. The researchers say they have developed a “historic book odour wheel” and can assess human reactions to it, such as why The British Library sells a candle claiming to have the smell of “library.”
Understandably, many are concerned about the amount of paper needed to manufacture books. Domtar, a pulp and paper company, has been working with The Rainforest Alliance for more than a decade, and has put in place a campaign called “Paper Because” which encourages the use of paper. The purpose of this campaign is to promote responsible use of paper through sustainable forestry practices, where they advertise research on the use of paper. For example, paper is one of the most recycled products on the planet. Studies have also shown that it’s easier to learn on paper because reading on paper is 30% faster than reading online.
While it is important to keep in mind the benefits of eBooks, it is much more important to recognize that the traditional paper book will always have a handful more of benefits. Think about them the next time you are shopping for books.
Written by: Maria Dryden